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System and method for establishing acoustic metrics to detect driver impairment

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20140231166 patent thumbnailZoom

System and method for establishing acoustic metrics to detect driver impairment


An apparatus for detecting an impairment state of a driver in a vehicle is provided. The apparatus comprises a vehicle interface device configured to receive a first audible signal from a driver indicative of at least one word while the driver is in a non-impaired state and to determine a first total time to recite the at least the word based on the first audible signal. The vehicle interface device is further configured to command the driver to recite the at least one word to determine the impairment state of the driver and to receive a second audible signal from the driver indicative of the at least one word. The vehicle interface device is further configured to determine a second total time to recite the at least one word based on the second audible signal and to compare the first total time to the second total time.
Related Terms: Metrics

Browse recent Ford Global Technologies, LLC patents - Dearborn, MI, US
USPTO Applicaton #: #20140231166 - Class: 180272 (USPTO) -
Motor Vehicles > With Means For Promoting Safety Of Vehicle, Its Occupant Or Load, Or An External Object >Responsive To Absence Or Inattention Of Operator, Or Negatively Reactive To Attempt To Operate Vehicle By Person Not Qualified Mentally Or Physically To Do So

Inventors: Thomas Lee Miller, Scott Alan Watkins, Brian Bennie, Mark Edward Porter, Brigitte Frances Mora Richardson

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20140231166, System and method for establishing acoustic metrics to detect driver impairment.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 61/522,532, filed on Aug. 11, 2011, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

Embodiments as set forth herein generally related to a system and method for establishing acoustic metrics to detect driver impairment.

BACKGROUND

Alcohol monitors are known to be used in vehicles. One example of such an implementation is set forth in United States Publication No. 2011/0032096 (“the \'096 publication) to Miller et al.

The \'096 publication provides an apparatus for performing an alcohol monitor in a vehicle based on a driver being one of a primary driver and a secondary driver. The apparatus comprises an electronic device that is positioned within the vehicle. The electronic device is configured to receive a driver status signal indicating that the driver of the vehicle is the secondary driver. The electronic device is further configured to receive an alcohol content measurement from an alcohol monitoring device (AMD) indicative of a blood alcohol content for the secondary driver. The electronic device is further configured to compare the alcohol content measurement to a predetermined alcohol content.

SUMMARY

An apparatus for detecting an impairment state of a driver in a vehicle is provided. The apparatus comprises a vehicle interface device configured to receive a first audible signal from a driver indicative of at least one word while the driver is in a non-impaired state and to determine a first total time to recite the at least one word based on the first audible signal. The vehicle interface device is further configured to command the driver to recite the at least one word to determine the impairment state of the driver and to receive a second audible signal from the driver indicative of the at least one word. The vehicle interface device is further configured to determine a second total time to recite the at least one word based on the second audible signal and to compare the first total time to the second total time to determine if the driver is in the impaired state.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The embodiments of the present disclosure are pointed out with particularity in the appended claims. However, other features of the various embodiments will become more apparent and will be best understood by referring to the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompany drawings in which:

FIG. 1 depicts a system for establishing acoustic phonetic impairment detection test (APIDT) to detect driver impairment in accordance to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 2A-2E depict a method for establishing the APIDT and information related thereto in accordance to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 depicts a method for revising the APIDT information in accordance to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 4A-4B depict a method 250 controlling vehicle operations in connection with the APIDT in accordance to one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIGS. 5A-5B depict a method for performing the APIDT for a driver under court order in accordance to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention that may be embodied in various and alternative forms. The figures are not necessarily to scale; some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular components. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention.

Recent studies have shown that alcohol usage is the fifth highest risky behavior to teenage drivers. In 2004, 13% of vehicle fatalities for 16-year-old drivers had a blood alcohol level greater than 0.08%. The numbers increase to 25% for drivers between the ages of 17 and 19 years of age.

Aftermarket breathalyzers are installed into a vehicle by cutting into the preexisting electrical system and splicing wires together as needed. Such a procedure may be expensive, intrusive, and jeopardize the integrity of the vehicle\'s electrical system. Other aftermarket devices may become available to interrupt starting the vehicle for other reasons, such as, various glucose levels, illegal drugs, etc. Vehicles may not be prepared to integrate these aftermarket devices.

A system is disclosed herein that utilizes an acoustic phonetic impairment test (APIDT) that uses properties of speech performance to detect driver impairment. For example, the system may compare recorded phrases or words (or random combination of words) to established or initially stored phrases or words, respectively, to assess driver impairment. Such impairment may be attributed to factors such as driver alcohol consumption, driver glucose levels, illegal drugs, etc. These factors may change the speech of the driver and such a change may be indicative of the driver being impaired. The system provides an owner, fleet operator, employer, etc. the ability to setup the APIDT and further provides the owner the ability to perform maintenance on the impairment detection implementation, such as adding/removing drivers who are required to undergo the APIDT. In addition, the system may enable the owner the ability to establish dates and times for the APIDT. Upon detecting that the driver is impaired based on a comparison of the recorded phrases or words to the initially stored baseline phrases or words, respectively, the vehicle may, but not limited to, automatically contact an emergency contact (as established by the owner), depict a photo of a family member of the impaired driver, activate various vehicle operations that cannot be disabled, generate warnings to the impaired driver, or simply prevent the vehicle from being started in the event this condition is set up by the owner. The features and others will be discussed in more detail herein.

The embodiments of the present disclosure generally provide for a plurality of circuits or other electrical devices. All references to the circuits and other electrical devices and the functionality provided by each, are not intended to be limited to encompassing only what is illustrated and described herein. While particular labels may be assigned to the various circuits or other electrical devices disclosed, such labels are not intended to limit the scope of operation for the circuits and the other electrical devices. Such circuits and other electrical devices may be combined with each other and/or separated in any manner based on the particular type of electrical implementation that is desired. It is recognized that any circuit or other electrical device disclosed herein may include any number of microprocessors, integrated circuits, memory devices (e.g., FLASH, RAM, ROM, EPROM, EEPROM, or other suitable variants thereof) and software which co-act with one another to perform operation(s) disclosed herein.

FIG. 1 depicts a system 10 for establishing acoustic metrics to detect driver impairment in accordance to one embodiment of the present invention. The system 10 generally comprises a vehicle interface device (“device”) 12. The device 12 includes a display 14 that provides information related to the various states of vehicle functionality or visual warnings to the driver. For example, the display 14 may provide, but not limited to, a driver identification message during vehicle startup, various administrative menu options, a seatbelt warning message, a speed limit start up message, vehicle near top speed message, top speed message, driver identification speed warnings, one or more levels of visual warnings for tailgating and/or an inhibit electronic stability control (“ESC”) and forward collision warning (FCW) message, an alert to notify the driver that the vehicle is too close to another vehicle or object, etc. The display 14 may be implemented as a touch screen to enable receipt of commands/data from one or more drivers as will be discussed below in more detail.

The device 12 also includes a plurality of switches 16, a voice recognition command interface 18, chimes 20, and voice output capability 22. The driver may toggle the switches 16 to view different messages and/or select various options. The voice recognition command interface 18 may enable the vehicle to receive commands from the driver so that the driver may audibly input commands and/or responses. One example of a voice recognition command interface is disclosed in U.S. Patent Publication No. 20040143440 (“the \'440 publication”), entitled “Vehicle Speech Recognition System,” filed Dec. 31, 2003. The voice recognition command interface 18 may receive phrases from a particular driver such that the device 12 compares the same to previously recorded phrases to determine if the driver is impaired. Speech impairment may be indicative of the driver being in an impaired state (e.g., intoxicated, under influence of drugs, abnormal glucose level, etc.).

A primary driver (e.g., owner, employer, fleet owner, etc.) may setup various accounts for particular drivers to enable the driver to input phrases or words which are used for the comparison to detect impairment. These aspects will be discussed in more detail below. The chimes 20 may audibly notify the driver when predetermined vehicle conditions have been met. In one example, the device 12 may activate the chimes 20 when the vehicle is near a top speed, the vehicle has achieved a top speed, the vehicle has exceeded the top speed, there is a low level of fuel in the fuel tank, when the vehicle is detected to be too close to another vehicle or obstacle to prevent a collision, when the traction control is enabled, the driver is detected to be impaired, etc. In one example, the voice output capability 22 enables the device 12 to transmit audio signals to the driver in the manner, but not limited to, that described in the \'440 publication. The switches 16 and the display 14 may function as a touch screen device. The switches 16 may be implemented as alpha-numeric characters. While the display 14, the switches 16, the voice input command interface 18, the chimes 20, and the voice output capability 22 are shown within the device 12, it is contemplated that one or more of these mechanisms may be positioned exterior to the device 12.

A security controller 24 is operably coupled to the device 12. While FIG. 1 generally illustrates that the security controller 24 is positioned outside of the device 12, other implementations may include the security controller 24 being implemented directly within the device 12. In general, one or more of the signals transmitted to/from the device 12 may be transmitted via a data communication bus. The bus may be implemented as a High/Medium Speed Controller Area Network (CAN) bus, a Local Interconnect Network (LIN) bus or other suitable bus generally situated to facilitate data transfer therethrough. The particular type of bus used may be varied to meet the desired criteria of a particular implementation.

An ignition switch (not shown) may receive one or more keys 26. The device 12 may receive a signal IGN_SW_STS from a body controller (not shown) to determine whether the key 26 is operably coupled to the ignition switch and to determine the position of the ignition switch. The keys 26 may be tagged or associated with a primary driver or a secondary driver of the vehicle. As noted above, the primary driver (or administrative driver) may be a parent, employer, or other suitable person who exercises complete control over the vehicle. The secondary driver may be a teenager, a valet, an employee, a technician or other person who must abide by vehicle parameters established by the primary driver. The key 26 includes an ignition key device 28 embedded therein for wirelessly communicating with the vehicle. The ignition key device 28 comprises a transponder (not shown) having an integrated circuit and an antenna. The transponder is adapted to transmit an electronic code as a signal DRIVER_STATUS to a receiver (not shown) in the security controller 24. Data on the signal DRIVER_STATUS may be indicative of which driver (e.g., primary or secondary) is driving the vehicle. The signal DRIVER_STATUS may be in the form of radio frequency (RF) based signal or radio frequency identification (RFID) tag that corresponds to binary data. The security controller 24 determines if additional data in the signal DRIVER_STATUS matches predetermined data stored therein (e.g., in a look up table of the security controller 24) prior to allowing the vehicle to start for anti-theft purposes. A powertrain control module (or engine controller) 30 allows the vehicle to start the engine in the event the data on the signal DRIVER_STATUS matches the predetermined data. It is recognized that the key 26 may also be a personal communication device (PCD) 32, such as a cell phone, in the event such a device 32 is used to gain access into the vehicle. In this example, data transmitted from the PCD 32 may be recognized by the vehicle to indicate whether the driver is the primary driver or the secondary driver.

The security controller 24 may transmit a signal DRIVER_STATUS_1 to indicate whether the particular driver is the primary driver or the secondary driver to various vehicle controllers or modules as either digital data on the data communication bus or hardwired signals. Prior to the security controller 24 transmitting the signal DRIVER_STATUS_1, the primary and secondary keys are learned to the security controller 24. An example of the manner in which the keys 26 are learned and programmed to the vehicle as either a primary or a secondary key is set forth in U.S. Pat. No. 7,868,759 (“the \'759 patent”) to Miller et al. It is recognized that the security controller 24 may be a passive anti-theft controller as set forth in the \'759 patent. It is also recognized that security controller 24 as set forth in FIG. 1 may be implemented as a passive-entry-passive start (PEPS) controller as set forth in the \'759 patent. In addition, the PCD 32 may be learned to the vehicle in the event predetermined operations are established between the operator of the PCD 32 and the vehicle. The engine controller 30 is operably coupled to the device 12. The device 12 transmits an authorization signal to the engine controller 30 in response to determining that the key 26 is authorized to start the vehicle. The engine controller 30 is configured to provide vehicle speed information to the device 12 on the data bus.

An auxiliary protocol interface module (APIM) 34 may be wirelessly coupled to any number of PCDs 32 via a Bluetooth protocol. The PCD 32 may be a cell phone or other suitable alternative. The APIM 34 is part of an in-vehicle communication system (and includes at least one transmitter (not shown) and at least one receiver (not shown)) which interfaces with each PCD 32 to enable normal operation thereof, voice input control to perform a function with the PCD 32 so that the driver does not have to enter data directly into the PCD 32. The APIM 34 may allow the user to operate a PCD 32 either in a handheld mode (e.g., manual mode) or in a voice control mode (e.g., w/o touch input control). The APIM 34 may interface via switches (not shown) positioned within the vehicle to enable touch selection control to perform a function with the PCD 32 so that the driver does not have to enter data directly into the PCD 32. In one example, the APIM 34 may be implemented as part of the SYNC® system developed by Ford Motor Company® and Microsoft®. Switches may be positioned on the APIM 34, the vehicle\'s steering wheel (not shown) or on the device 12 to enable touch input. The APIM 34 may further include an embedded PCD (not shown) in the event the driver\'s PCD 34 is not electrically coupled thereto. The device 12 may transmit data to the APIM 34 to indicate that the driver is detected to be in an impaired state. The APIM 34 may control the PCD 32 to call or text message an emergency contact or alternatively, may utilize the embedded PCD to contact the emergency contact.

The device 12 may also generate a report including recorded events corresponding to moments in which the driver fails to recite a particular phrase or word for purposes of detecting speech impairment, fails to provide the particular phrase or word for purposes of detecting speed impairment within a predetermined time frame, or fails the speech impediment test after providing the recited phrase. The device 12 may transmit data indicative of the report to the APIM 34. The APIM 34 may wirelessly transmit such information to a server for retrieval at a later point.

A driver alert system (DAS) module 35 is operably coupled to the device 12. The DAS module 35 uses a forward pointing camera (not shown) to monitor the vehicle\'s movement within a lane. The DAS module 35 is configured to detect a shift in the driver\'s performance that may cause the vehicle to leave a lane or head off of the road. For example, the DAS module 35 measures a driver\'s alertness and assigns a rating (e.g., Driver Alert Rating (DAR)) by tracking vehicle variation within the lane. In general, the DAS module 35 monitors the DAR to detect a shift in the driver\'s performance that may be attributed to the driver exhibiting a drowsy or sleepy condition. In the event the DAR is low (or below a pre-defined threshold), the DAS module 35 may transmit a signal to the device 12 for visually and/or audibly notifying the driver that the driver\'s performance indicates that the driver is in a “drowsy state.” The alert is provided to the driver so that the driver can pull himself/herself out of the drowsy state.

A number of vehicle feature controllers 36 are operably coupled to the device 12. Such controllers 36 may control various vehicle features such as an audio system, a lane keep assist system, various safety active systems such as, but not limited to, roll over detection, forward collision, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert, etc. In the event the driver is detected to be in an impaired state, the device 12 may transmit a signal to the vehicle feature controllers 36 to active such features in the event the primary driver has enabled the vehicle to operate even if the secondary driver is detected to be in an impaired state. For example, the primary driver may want the vehicle to have some ability to travel to allow the vehicle to operate to prevent the secondary driver from being left alone or stranded, particularly in moments of extreme heat or cold weather. In this case, the vehicle may be configured to enable the vehicle to travel at very low speeds. For example, the device 12 may transmit a reduced maximum speed limit to the engine controller 30 in the event the secondary driver is detected to be impaired. Further, the audio system may be muted or deactivated in the event the secondary driver is detected to be impaired.

An interior camera 38 is also provided to capture an image of a driver while positioned in the vehicle. Exterior lights 40 such as hazard lights are operably coupled to the device. A data transfer device 42 such as a memory stick (e.g., USB memory card, etc.) may be operably coupled to the APIM 34, which then transfers data to the device 12. The relevance of the interior camera 38, the exterior lights 40, and the data transfer device 42 will be explained in more detail below.

FIGS. 2A-2D depict a method 50 for establishing acoustic metrics in the system 10 to detect driver impairment in accordance to one embodiment of the present invention.

In operation 52, the device 12 determines whether the key 26 is operably coupled to an ignition switch (not shown). The device 12 determines such status by monitoring the signal IGN_SW_STS. If the key 26 is in the ignition switch, then the method 50 moves to operation 54. If not, then the method 50 remains to operation 52.

In operation 54, the device 12 determines whether a court ordered APIDT has been imposed for a driver. In one example, the device 12 may monitor for the presence of an aftermarket device that the user is required to install if court ordered. If such an aftermarket device is not connected to the device 12, then a court order is not in place. If the aftermarket device is connected to the device 12, then it can be presumed that a court order is in place. In another example, a diagnostic tool may be operably coupled to the device 12 to enable a bit therein to indicate the presence of a court order. If such a bit is not enabled, then a court order has not been issue. If the court order has been imposed, then the method 50 moves on to method 300 (see FIG. 5A). If not, then the method 50 moves to operation 56.

In operation 56, the device 12 determines whether the ignition switch (when operably coupled to the key 26) is in the RUN position. If so, then the method 50 moves to operation 58. If not, then the method 50 remains in operation 56.

In operation 58, the device 12 determines whether the driver is the primary driver based on the signal DRIVER_STATUS_1. If the driver is the primary driver, then the method 50 moves to operation 60. If not, then the method 50 moves to method 250 (see FIG. 4A).

In operation 60, the device 12 determines whether APIDT has been previously setup for any one or more secondary drivers of the vehicle. In this case, such a determination may be initiated by the primary driver who utilizes the device 12 to perform such an inquiry. If the device 12 determines that the APIDT has been setup, then the method 50 moves to operation 62. If not, then the method 50 moves to operation 66.

In operation 62, the device 12 provides an APIDT menu for display to the primary driver.

In operation 64, the device 12 determines whether the primary driver has selected the APIDT menu to perform an update or revision. If so, the method 50 moves to method 170 (see FIG. 3) to perform various updates. If not, then the method 50 remains in operation 64.

In operation 66, the device 12 prepares the APIDT menu for display to the primary driver.

In operation 68, the device 12 determines whether the primary driver has selected to program an APIDT for a secondary driver via the APIDT menu. If so, the method 50 moves to operation 70. If not, then the method remains in operation 68.

In operation 70, the device 12 provides the APIDT menu to the primary driver. The menu notes that the secondary driver will need to be present along with the primary driver during the setup so that various phrases can be recited by the secondary driver and initially stored onto the device 12.

In operation 72, the device 12 receives the name of the secondary driver from the primary driver.

In operation 74, the device 12 stores/saves the name of the secondary driver as provided in operation 72.

In operation 76, the device 12 provides a listing of phrases (or random combination of words) that is to be recited by the secondary driver. Such phrases (or random combination of words) may be selected by the primary driver or may be established from a predetermined list of phrases as stored therein. It is recognized that any number of phrases (or words) may be selected. In this example, three phrases (or any number of words) will be recited by the secondary driver and stored within the device 12 for purposes of performing the APIDT when the secondary driver attempts to use the vehicle in later moments. Any reference to phrases as noted hereafter also applies to words. For example, instead of using phrases, a user may be expected to provide a single word or random combination of words instead of a phrase. The user may be requested to recite any number of words which do not necessarily form a phrase. It is recognized that any operation as used in connection with a phrase, may also apply to a word.

In operation 78, the device 12 sets a P1 counter to be equal to a predetermined value (e.g., “x”). For example, the x (or P1 counter) may correspond to a number of times a first phrase is to be recorded. By requiring multiple recordings for a first phrase, the device 12 may be configured to learn the particular speech patterns (e.g., the phonemes and/or the rate of time for the secondary driver to recite the first phrase) for the secondary driver when the secondary driver is not impaired (e.g., the secondary driver is in the presence of the primary driver). A phoneme is generally defined as the smallest contrastive unit in a language, or phonetic unit that conveys a distinction in the meaning. Driver impairment may be detected by comparing phonemes in a recited phrase to calculated phonemes for a phrase that is recited when the driver is in a non-impaired state. In addition, driver impairment may be detected by comparing the total amount of time it takes the secondary driver to recite the selected phrase to the calculated total amount of time it takes the secondary driver to recite the phrase when the driver is in a non-impaired state. The total time it takes the user to recite a particular phrase generally includes the various pauses between each word. In some cases, the pauses between each word may be ignored particularly if the phrases are randomly selected from a group of phrases.

In operation 80, the device 12 notifies the secondary driver to select a record button to wait for a prompt such that the secondary driver recites the first phrase (e.g., Phrase n1). In this example, the first phrase may be “The early bird gets the worm.”

In operation 82, the device 12 prompts the secondary driver to recite the first phrase in response to receiving an indication that the secondary driver has selected the record button.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20140231166 A1
Publish Date
08/21/2014
Document #
14237533
File Date
08/09/2012
USPTO Class
180272
Other USPTO Classes
704270
International Class
/
Drawings
12


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